Written by: Tessa Harvey
On Tuesday, July 11, a small group of volunteers from across West Michigan met in Spring Lake to beautify the rain garden that sits behind the municipal building.
Gardening tools, waste bags, and four yards of mulch awaited them. In a little over two hours’ time, the volunteers, including a teacher, emergency doctor, and several WMEAC staff and interns, had pulled up weeds and put down a thick layer of mulch to keep out any invasive species.
The garden, filled with Russian sage, ninebark, roses, grasses, sedum, elder berry, purple coneflowers, hydrangea, catalpa, and woody heuchera, was initiated in 2006, under a grant, which did not include maintenance. This has been a source of problem for keeping the rain garden thriving. That year, the garden was constructed with help from Deborah Pless of Plesslane Design.
For some years after, however, the garden went through a period of neglect. It stayed that way, overgrown, until last year. Wetland Watch, with help from the Spring Lake Village Department of Public Works, worked with other volunteers to get the garden back into shape; pruning, removing small trees and invasive plants, and weeding. At that time, Wetland Watch had the garden bench refinished and new mulch put down.
The ten-year-old rain garden provides an area for storm water runoff to absorb. Instead of running down the streets and sidewalks collecting sediment and debris, the rain garden takes up water. Solutions like this prevent the stormwater runoff from reaching and polluting our rivers and lakes. This type of stormwater pollution is the biggest threat to the Great Lakes ecosystems.
This year, WMEAC took over upkeep of the rain garden in order to continue to keep it an active pollinator garden and learning opportunity for the community This season has seen two garden cleanup days so far.
It’s because of our volunteers that projects like this get done. We’re so grateful for the work all of you do!
If you’re interested in volunteering with WMEAC, look for upcoming events here and on the Facebook page.